Monday, May 11, 2009

New Release and What the Heck does "NEG UB2" Mean?

So yes, I was online, on one of those hook-up sites. And lest you think I was on there cruising, get your mind out of the gutter. I don’t really know if I’m ready to admit why I was on there, either to myself or to you, but let’s just call it a little social experiment.

One thing that will let you know I wasn’t online for naughty purposes was the dispassion I felt as paged through the site with its come-ons, its cries for help, its attempts at wit, and its leave-nothing-to-the-imagination photographs (or pics, I guess you would say…I really must get with the times one of these days!). Like the hopeful in A Chorus Line, I felt nothing. But this allowed me to view the site somewhat objectively and what stuck out to me and what really caught my eye—over and over again—was a little shorthand that many guys had chosen to include in their ads. This shorthand made this newly diagnosed HIV positive man feel excluded, hurt, and alone.

The term? NEG UB2.

So short, so to-the-point. So cutting. So cruel. It’s equally as bad as a few other key phrases designed to keep the “unworthy” at bay, phrases like “No fats” or “No fems”. But it’s NEG UB2 that really got to me.

Do the people who put that in their “what I’m looking for” realize how casually hurtful that phrase can be? Do they stop for a moment to consider that someone—or even many someones—out there reading this hateful little phrase may be newly diagnosed and struggling? Or maybe they’re not new to HIV or AIDS itself and came to this online community looking for a little love, a little companionship, and maybe a feeling of being included? Do they stop to think how very STUPID the phrase is? Not just in its cruelty, but also in the fact that if they think it’s some kind of magic phrase to screen out all potential suitors who are HIV positive, they’re using something that’s probably as effective as a condom full of holes? Just saying you’re negative and asking someone else to be the same way does not make it so.

Trust me, I know.

I also know that maybe, in their misguided, unthinking way, these guys are just looking to protect themselves from contracting a disease that may seriously impact the rest of their lives. Even though my doctor tells me that an HIV diagnosis no longer has to be viewed as a death sentence, it still is a life-changing illness, albeit one that’s not quite as life-threatening as it once was. If you don’t have it, you don’t want to get it.

Trust me, I know.

But even if you put that phrase in your profile as a means of self-protection, consider what you’re doing and how it might affect someone else online. Someone, like me, who already feels singled out and, in his worst moments, like damaged goods that no one will ever want again. That phrase makes my lowest moments plunge lower.

Whatever your intentions, ignorant, self-preservative, or just plain callous, consider this: you can make the same message without making someone feel so bad. By simply stating what you believe is your own status—healthy negative and would like to stay that way—is a gentler way of getting across the point: “I’d rather not get involved with someone who is HIV+ because of the risk.” And it’s certainly kinder than saying NEG UB2.

Or maybe—and here’s a radical notion—maybe you should just do away with phrases like NEG UB2 or a gentler variation and say nothing at all. Take your chances. Make your connections based on things other than someone’s medical history. There are ways to protect yourself. There are couples out there who are one half poz, one half neg…and they make it work.

And besides, if you’re looking for sex online, isn’t it wise to simply assume everyone is POZ? And then you can really protect yourself…rationally and thoughtfully.

The above excerpt is from main character, Ethan Schwartz's, blog, OFF TO SEE THE WIZARD OF POZ, which figures prominently in NEG UB2. I happen to agree with him.

What do you think?

Get your own copy of NEG UB2 here.

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